Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus pilots program for Second Harvest

Service-learning volunteer Ashley Lawhorn sorts snacks for deserving children.

Students from Pellissippi State Community College’s Strawberry Plains Campus have teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee and others to get healthy snacks into the hands of deserving elementary and middle school kids in Knox County. This is the first time that college or university students have been involved in this type of partnership.

On Nov. 14 Pellissippi State students and staff sorted a pallet and a half of food items, including juice, milk, fruit and vegetables, provided by Second Harvest. The goods went into plastic bags donated by Walmart. Then members of Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church stepped in to deliver the bags to Carter Elementary and Middle schools and to Sunnyview Primary School.

The snacks provide nourishment for six weekends for some of the students participating in Second Harvest’s Food for Kids program. The program includes 18 counties and makes available 500,000-plus meals to more than 10,500 children.

The student effort is in keeping with Pellissippi State’s emphasis on service-learning, says Mike North, dean of the Strawberry Plains Campus.

“The idea came up after meeting with some Second Harvest representatives at a community breakfast,” he said, “and we agreed we would give it a try at Strawberry Plains. Even though our campus has only been open for a few months, our students are enthusiastic about reaching out to the community.”

One of those students is Pierce Wender. “I enjoy helping people,” said Wender, who is studying philosophy. “I’ve had plenty of people help me in the past, and it just feels good to pass it on.”

Second Harvest is thankful for the extra hands. “It’s helpful to Second Harvest that we only have to make one delivery,” said Sam Compton, youth programs manager, “and it helps the schools because they don’t have to do the bag packing. We are very excited about the possibility of continuing to work with Pellissippi State.”

Annie Gray, a Pellissippi State faculty member, coordinates the Service-Learning program for the college.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s service-learning opportunities, go to or call the college at (865) 694-6400. For information about courses offered at the Strawberry Plains Campus, go to or call the campus at (865) 225-2300.